Tag Archives: in Christ

I am complete

Words of Grace 

 

…and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:10

 

Theologically, emotionally, and practically—this is one of the most amazing statements of the Bible.  “You are complete.”  Nothing more to be done.  God looks at you and sees a finished product.

Think of how that contrasts with so much of what we have been taught.  “You will be acceptable to God if…”  “Your salvation will be assured when…”  “God needs you to do…”  So much of the church’s teaching has been about what we are supposed to do now.  But what if it has all been done for us?

What if you really are a finished product?  What if there is nothing more for you to do for your salvation or if there is nothing more that you could do?  What if you are already complete in Him?  That would be something truly amazing!

Do you realize that the only thing that will happen when you and I die to this world is that we will lose things?  We will lose our fears.  We will lose our physical bodies.*  We will lose the sin that has plagued us for so long.  We will separate from this world of corruption.  All those things will drop away like the husk of a seed that has germinated into its true nature.

The context of the passage quoted above is about Jesus, in whom “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”  That word, “fullness,” is the same as the word, “complete.”  All the way to the top.  Full.  Whole.

Listen: just as Christ is full of the Godhead, full in the Father, so are you full in Him.  That is just what this passage is saying.  Is Jesus less than God?  No?  Then neither are you less than complete in Him.

The call to the believer is to live according to the truth of who we are in Jesus.  Begin to let this world go.  Look to Him for all things, because all you need is provided in Him.  There is nothing more for you to do, so just walk with Him and learn of Him.  Be who you are.

 

I am complete.

There is nothing more to do.

I cannot become more of what I already am.

So I’ll just walk with Him.

In my completeness!

 

*When I mentioned losing the physical body, someone thought that we would be gaining or adding a spiritual body.  I will grant that, but let me ask this: How can we be sitting with Jesus in the heavenly places now, as Ephesians 2:6 says?  Perhaps, in that day, we will simply discover our spiritual body—which has been ours in Christ all along.

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I am Clean

Words of Grace  

 

One of the things God has not given us is the ability to forget the things we really want to forget.  There are good reasons for that, I suppose, but most of us have done some things we would love to push out of our thinking forever.  It certainly doesn’t help when other people remind us or when the evil one whispers a reminder in our ears.  But we often don’t need them.  We just remember.  And, when we remember, it hurts.

But does God want us to live every day in the shame of what we have done?  Some preachers seem to think so.  They keep Christians in control and motivate them to obedience by reminding them of what they were before they came to Christ.  Forgiveness means little if our sins are always lifted up to us by others or by ourselves.

No, God does not want us to live in shame.  He says that there is “no condemnation” for those of us who belong to Jesus.  He says that all our sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ.  He says we are clean.

One of my favorite passages is from 1 Corinthians 6, where Paul is telling the readers that they are no longer what they were.  He does not deny what they were and what they did, but he explains that they are different now—new creations, as the Lord said.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

“Such were some of you.”  This is not denial.  This is reality . . . but it is the whole reality.  We are not what we were because we have been washed.  We are now clean because of Jesus.  He washed all our sins away.  Today we are no longer what we were.

“But what about the sins I have done since becoming a Christian?”  Those sins are washed away by the blood as well.  In fact, those sins didn’t stick to us in the first place.  Some people don’t like this teaching.  They think our former sins are gone but not our current sins.  If that’s true, however, then Jesus has to be crucified again for us or some other way of salvation has to be determined.  If sin still separates us from God and remains on our account after we have come to Jesus, then the cross of Christ was not enough.

But the cross was enough.  The love of God is sufficient to cover all our sins: past, present and future.  We are no longer what we were and we will never again be what we were—because we have been washed and made clean.

 

I am clean.

Jesus has cleansed me.

The old has been washed away.

I am not what I was.

I am clean.

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I am Good

Words of Grace   

 

The problem with words of affirmation is that you can’t just make them up.  Telling yourself good things to believe about you might feel good for a little while, but it usually sounds phony.  Many motivational teachers use self-produced words of affirmation to move us to some change; but, if we don’t really believe those words, how can the change be real?

Real words of affirmation, those that make a difference in us, are those that come from the outside.  We might still doubt the words, but we can’t control them and we are not producing them.  You can tell yourself that you did a good job; but, when the boss tells you or the client tells you, that makes a difference.

It isn’t bad to affirm yourself.  In fact, there may be times when you are the only one and you have to believe your words to keep going.  But words of self-affirmation are most effective when they are in agreement with the words from outside.

So, when I say the words, “I am good,” it matters where I get them.  If I just produce them out of my own desire to feel good, then I remember the things I regret and know the words are not true.  If others say them about me, that feels better, but I still know things about myself they don’t know and I still doubt the words.  But when the One who truly knows me and knows the only standards of goodness that matter, when He says I am good, that’s something I can hold onto.

Yes, sin has been a part of all our lives and we were taught that sin made us bad.  That’s why we needed a Savior.  But once the Savior came into our lives, He brought His goodness into us.  He washed away the stain of the sins and filled us with His love and His life.  We are good because He is good.

The idea of goodness is hard to apply to our lives because of what we were taught about ourselves.  We feel that we must reject any affirmation of goodness in us because of what we have done.  But if our goodness is not judged by what we have done, if it is judged by who He is in us, then we are truly good.  Those who belong to Jesus, who are filled with His life, are good.

 

So Paul could say with assurance:

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness… Romans 15:14 (NKJV)

I am good.

Jesus is good and He is my life.

Because He is in me and I am in Him, I am good.

God has given me goodness.

I am good.

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Finding Myself

Grace 101

 

I am loved.  Jesus loves me, this I know.  It’s such a simple message, but it shines its light to the very core of our being.  Jesus brings the reality of God to my life.  He tells me who I am.

The One in charge of all things, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, loves me.  There is no why or how, there is just the simple fact of His love.  In relationship with Him, I find myself.  I am someone who is loved.  I am special and valuable and worthy—all because of Him. 

You see, it really doesn’t matter what I think of myself.  Most of us think worse of ourselves than we should, I suppose.  Some think too highly of themselves.  But I will never consider an identity I have chosen for myself to be valid because identity needs confirmation.  Identity is established in relationship.

When I look past others like me because their perspective is too much like my own, and I look past the untouchable ideas of the Universe or Nature or, in some cases, God, because I can’t hear their judgments of me—then I still look for a Person.  That Person is Jesus, God in human flesh.  There is so much about Him that I do not and can not understand, but I know that I can live in relationship with Him.  He accepts me and I discover who I am.

I am who I am in Him.  Chosen, loved, accepted, valued—that’s me! 

The search for identity is fulfilled in relationship with Jesus.  Please notice that I say nothing about religion or faith or performance.  When I see Him as a Person and understand how He sees me as a person, that’s when it all begins.  Religion can give rules and doctrines, but not a relationship.  Many who claim to be His don’t know Him.  That’s what He said would happen. 

But to those who come to Him, to those He gives rest.  “Come unto me all you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  That’s what He said.  Rest from work?  Hardly.  Rest from spiritual striving?  Sure, but there’s more.  This is rest for our souls.  Rest from the search.  Rest from the unknowing.  Rest from the fear and anxiety of wondering who we really are.  The answer is found in Him.

Please also notice that this answer is not something that can be found outside of Him.  You might discover what He thinks of you, the fact, but it will not satisfy until it is found in Him.  Identity is lived in relationship. 

In Jesus I found myself.  I finally learned the truth about who I am.  Now—if I can but remember—I can live forever in peace.

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I Am

Grace 101

Did you ever notice how confident Jesus was about His identity?  He doesn’t try to “find Himself” or seek to assert His individuality.  The youngest report we have of Him after His birth is when He was twelve.  At that age He told His parents that He had a call to do His “Father’s business.”  It appears that His identity was secure even then.

And consider how often Jesus uses the phrase, “I am. . .”  “I am the Way.  I am the Door.  I am the Good Shepherd.  I am the Resurrection.”  He understood who He was.

Of course, when Moses asked for the name of God, the Lord told him simply, “I AM.”  That was enough and the Jews called the Lord, “He who is,” from that time on.

The “I am” statement is powerful.  Not only does it communicate our identity to others, it establishes it in our own hearts and minds.  Believers should use it often as we face the accusations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

I have shared this somewhere before, but this list of statements from Freedom in Christ Ministries is very good.  I have included the link to their website, which has a lot more information on identity.  You can get this list from them as a printed poster, but just read these through—out loud— regularly to remind yourself who you are now.  (The formatting is better on their site.)

http://www.ficm.org/index.php?command=textwhoamiinchrist

I am accepted…

 

John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of   Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I   am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price   and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and   adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven   of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne   of grace through Jesus Christ.
 

 

I am secure…

 

Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my   good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation   brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed   and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will   complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of   fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one   cannot touch me.
 

 

I am significant…

 

John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the   true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed   to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation   for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in   the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom   and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through   Christ, who strengthens me.

 

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Righteousness

Grace 101

 

Imagine attending a funeral of a friend where the preacher and friends and family members all have a chance to say something good about the person.  Each one gets up and says that they can’t think of anything bad the person did.  He didn’t drink or smoke or lust or swear or steal or cheat or lie or anything else.  In fact, each person can tell a story of how this deceased friend avoided doing something bad even though tempted.  Then the funeral is over.

Now, wouldn’t you find that just a little disturbing?  Doesn’t a good life consist of something positive, rather than just a lack of negative?

So often we think of a righteous life as one without sin.  To be righteous, according to most people, is to avoid the negative.  Righteousness is an empty account before God.  I think this is in the minds of many believers because all they have learned of righteousness is that it is the avoidance of unrighteousness.

But is it a joyful thing to stand before God with an empty account?  To have nothing?

Even grace teachers communicate this.  We often teach that the righteousness we have worked for in our lives is as nothing before God.  We have done nothing to earn His love or acceptance.  This is a true teaching, in fact an important teaching.  Otherwise, we allow people to think they have earned their way into God’s favor.

But when you and I stand before God, we stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  That is much more than the lack of bad things.  That righteousness is everything good.  Our account before God is full of good!

If you look into the gift box that came with your salvation, you will find, lying close to the top, the righteousness of Jesus.  It’s yours.  It’s part of the gift.  And it isn’t just an empty thing.  It is something full and alive and good.

We do have an account with God, a moral account, I suppose.  Before Christ came into us, every sin was in that account.  The Scripture says that whoever is guilty of one sin is guilty of them all.  Many preachers have made that clear to us.  There is no hope of trying to live a life good enough to deserve salvation.   The accounts of the lost are filled with debt.

But that isn’t true for believers.  Not only are our debts wiped away, but our accounts are filled with the generous goodness of Jesus.  Paul says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, placed in our accounts.  He says, in 1 Corinthians, that Christ is our righteousness.  So our accounts went from as negative as they could be to as positive as they could be.  We went from being destitute before God to being rich in His goodness.

The righteousness of Jesus is something!  And it is yours because of Him.

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Why do you try so hard . . . .

. . . to be what you already are?

The Christian life is supposed to be a life of rest.  So when does that start?

I have enjoyed the bumper sticker that says, “Are we having fun yet?”  I think it should be on the cars parked at almost all churches.

If you listen to most preachers, the message of the gospel seems to be that we should strive to be something we are not.  We should work harder to become good Christians, to be righteous or holy.  We should do more to be accepted by God.  We are given formulas, techniques, things to do to make ourselves worthy.  And, just about the time you think you have put together the right kind of life, someone comes along with more.

In other words, most of the people who attend churches on Sunday hear that they should try very hard to become what Christ has already made them.

You see, those who are in Christ are already holy, already righteous, already good.  I understand that your daily life doesn’t seem to measure up to the image of someone who is holy, but those actions are the results of bad habits, not of who you are.  You are holy and good.

There is a big difference between changing what you do and changing who you are.  If you see yourself as a sinner, as a broken person who continues to fail the requirements of God, then you will fail.  Over and over.  How can you change who you are?  But you can change what you do, especially if you believe you are a person different from what that action or attitude indicates.

Example: You look around your house and you believe that you are messy.  You tell yourself that you are disorganized and irresponsible and addicted to stuff.  As long as you believe that’s who you are, then you will have the problem.  No matter how much you pick up or clean up, a messy person will just be messy again.  But when you look at yourself and see that you are organized and can be responsible and that you are content without buying or collecting all that stuff, then you can change your habits and be free.  This is simply a motivational technique.

The problem comes when we have been told so often that we are nothing but dirty rotten sinners, in bondage to our evil actions.  When we hear that every Sunday morning and read it in our devotionals and talk about it with other failing believers, then how can we change?  We don’t want to be such terrible sinners, but we have no choice.  No matter what we do, the preacher still preaches to us the same way.

What the preacher may not understand is that Jesus has given you His life.  You died and now you live in Him.  He is your righteousness and you have the same goodness as He does.  That’s who you are.  Sure, you may need to change your behavior, but you aren’t set up for failure from the beginning.  If the preacher told you every Sunday that you were a new creation in Christ, pure and holy and good, you may actually start to believe it and live like it is true.

We will live out our days according to the pattern of the person we believe ourselves to be.  We know that.  But we can’t change the person we are.  Only Jesus can do that.  And all of those who belong to Him have already been changed.

Don’t spend your time and energy trying to become something you already are.  Instead, live who you are.

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